By Dr. Rhonda Savage
From Mel Gibson's starring role in "What Women Want" to Dr. John Gray's book "Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus," the messages have been out there for a long time. Communicating effectively with women is an art, and it will do two things for your business. First, she'll follow your recommendations and buy from you. More importantly, she'll be the best marketing tool you could ever implement. Remember this phrase: "What women buy, they sell!" Treat her exceptionally well and you'll earn her loyalty and referrals.
Connecting with your female customers may be more important now than in the past. Economic hardship has changed the way consumers are spending their dollars. Those businesses that have not had to constantly worry about marketing or sales previously are finding themselves in a new world.
Women control the majority of spending in their households; they purchase the majority of new cars, computers and home electronics! With $2 trillion dollars of earnings and a $3 trillion dollars of spending, you need to consider your female client.
How is your female customer different in the decision-making process than a male? Both are looking for a combination of knowledge and trust, yet men and women develop trust in different ways. Men make decisions based on few facts and tend to take action independently. Women need more information up front and tend to be more thoughtful in making a decision. She needs to process the information and feel like she's been listened to; she'll want to ask her friends and family about their opinions. Most importantly, if you want to increase your sales to women, you need to sharpen your listening skills.
If you want to increase your sales among female buyers, consider the following five things:
1. Listening skills
Women are much more sensitive to your tone of voice than a male customer. If you're stressed and tense, your words can unknowingly become clipped, curt and short. Your female client will tune into your tone and judge your business negatively because of the way you talk to your employees or other customers. This is called "anti-marketing." Women are more sensitive to eye contact, body language and gestures. Women need sustained eye contact more than men; usually 20-30 seconds at least to feel you're listening to her. Focus on her during your presentation. Listen with your eyes, body language and tone of voice. Listen to her story. If you're busy looking paperwork, she will feel you're not listening and will not give you her trust. Direct your conversation toward her, but be sure to ask her spouse or significant other about any concerns she or he may have. As she tells you her story, she'll be giving you clues to her concerns, to her wants, her goals, and her desires. Answer all her questions, no matter how trivial they seem. When she's all done asking questions, she may need to think things over and call you back, or come back in to ask more questions. It's important she not sense you're stressed for time. When you present your information, don't use a canned presentation. Customize the sale to her needs and communicate with her how she would like to be communicated with: If she needs a lot of information, give it to her. If she wants very few facts, deliver your answers to her questions and wait for more.
2. Image is everything
Women are detailed oriented. From the very first phone call, she needs to connect and for you to make her feel special. You cannot ever redo a bad first impression. If you have a store location, the front office area needs to be warm, inviting clean and neat. Your team needs to wear professional clothing. Women notice details! Look at the women's restroom: It should be HER restroom. The appearance should be not only neat and clean, but up-to-date with the décor and decorated with a woman in mind.
3. Don't put down the competition
When communicating with women, it's important to remain neutral when discussing your competitor. Never speak badly about another business. Instead, talk about the benefits of your products and how they will best suit her needs. Talk about your products with a positive focus on how they will meet the needs of her family. Women often have two main passions: her family and making the world a better place. How will your product save her family money? Keep them safer? Protect the environment? In addition to remaining neutral and focusing on positive attributes of your product, be certain to display your credentials. Your female buyer will look at your diplomas, certificates, honors, but she won't want you to "tout" them. You can refer to a safety award, but don't brag on it!
4. Emphasize the benefit to the buyer
Women look for the perfect answer. It's in her nature ... she wants to be certain she's making the right decision. Help her make the right decision by discussing why it's best she move on this decision right now. Respect her time; don't keep her waiting. Remember the phrase: "People count up the faults of those who keep them waiting." This is especially true for women. Women are multi-taskers. If you keep a woman waiting, she'll be thinking of all the other things she needs to do and will be more stressed than the majority of your male clients. Another phrase to remember: "People shop up." Most people want the best treatment they can afford. Women especially like to buy the best they can for their family's needs. Provide her with her options, but do tell her what you feel is the best for her situation. Remember she may be slower to make her decision than your male client, as she wants to gather information and make that right decision. You might facilitate acceptance sooner with a complimentary added-value service, such as a guarantee.
5. Expect to follow up
Many times, sales are lost with female customers because of a lack of follow up. When men say, "I'll think about it," it usually means they're not interested. When women say, "I'll think about it," it means she truly will think about it! Ask permission to follow up within a week and answer any questions she may have. From there, she will direct you to what she wants. She'll either need more time, more information, want to buy from you, or have decided on another product. Demanding, insistent salespeople will often lose the sale to the female client. She doesn't want "to be sold!" If you focus your business on the needs of the female customer, you will have her loyalty, trust and referrals. Men have needs, but women need much more. Remember these three things: If you don't meet the needs of your female customers, they will leave you. If you just meet their needs, they'll stay. If you exceed their needs, they will refer their friends, family and colleagues. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Dr. Rhonda Savage is an internationally acclaimed speaker and CEO for a well-known practice management and consulting business. As past President of the Washington State Dental Association, she is active in organized dentistry and has been in private practice for more than 16 years. Dr. Savage is a noted speaker on practice management, women's issues, communication and leadership.
For more information on her speaking, visit www.DentalManagementU.com , or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.